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"From Fishing to Farmers Markets" & events, issues & ideas

Monday, January 29, 2007
Marco on Easter Island...CE0YFL

It is true that one's hobbies will help make friends in every country. Our ham hobby introduced us to Brian and Kari on Pitcairn Island, and now we were to meet the legendary CE0DFL from Easter Island. He was an active ham in many DX contests Steve had participated in during the height of the sun cycle in the seventies. Two explanations...firstly, "DX" is the name for ham radio contacts with a foreign country. Some "DX" countries are rare and hams launch expeditions to a distant island such as Bouvet in order to satisfy the hams who need this "DX" country for their contest awards. That's another story. Secondly, the sun cycle lasts eleven years. At its peak, the sun cycle provides conditions for excellent radio propagation around the world. "DX" contacts are possible from North to South such as Seattle to Antarctica or from East to West such as Seattle to India and Seattle to Morocco. With this ham vocabulary, it will be easier to understand the albacore tuna trolling expedition about to unfold here.

After a DX contact, we record it in our log book...the contact's call sign, CE0DFL, the time of the call in Zulu time which was previously known as Greenwich Mean Time, the signal strength , a 5-9 for example is best, and the ham's name, call sign, and location. Then, when you have time, you mail him a QSL card which is proof of the contact. He will also mail you a card, or if he is famous, his manager will mail out the QSL cards. In our case, Marco handed us an eyeball QSO card because we met him in person. More about that later.....


Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Tuna Trolling Hams
Our ham radio station onboard the Papa George featured a Drake TR-7 which transmitted on all ham bands with both side-band (voice) or CW (Morse code). Sometimes we bumped up the power of our transmissions from 100 watts to 500 with a Metron solid state amplifier. Our signal was pushed through an R-7 Cushcraft vertical antenna which I built from a kit. I liked to send CW with a straight key which was old fashioned but allowed me to send with one hand and hold on with the other.

On the way to Panama, we listened to some of the 20 meter marine nets for information. Many voyagers tune into these nets to contact friends, get WX info (weather), and to lend a measure of safety to their travels across the ocean. When Brian Young, VP6BX, was heard, I tail ended his last QSO (conversation with another ham) with the phrase “Brian, we’re headed your way on our tuna troller!” It was an impetuous moment which broke ham protocol and courtesy….but he answered me. “N7LHJ this is VP6BX”, and I made the acquaintance of one of Pitcairn Island’s famous hams.

We set up a schedule for a twice weekly QSO on 20 meters sideband. Brian was great company on the long run to Easter Island and we learned many fascinating things about Pitcairn Island and its culture and people. Brian’s wife, Kari, is also a ham…VP6KY.

In addition to our ham radio station, Steve and I planned for redundancies in our marine radios and electronics. We were out of the US for six months with little hope of repair for anything unless we had the parts and could fix it ourselves. The Papa George was like Noah's ark...two sidebands, two auto-pilots, two radars, etc.

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